IS JOURNALISM WORTH DYING FOR? by Anna Politkovskaya
Kirkus Star

IS JOURNALISM WORTH DYING FOR?

Final Dispatches
by , translated by

KIRKUS REVIEW

“It is generally accepted that we Russians do not like ourselves much.” So wrote the late Politkovskaya (1958–2006) (Putin’s Russia, 2006, etc.), who paid with her life for her daring critiques of post-Soviet society.

This spirited collection, originally published by the journal Novaya Gazeta in 2007, opens with a self-interview taken from the journalist’s laptop after her death. In it, she accuses most of her journalistic colleagues in Russia with being koverny, or clowns, “whose job it is to keep the public entertained and, if they do have to write about anything serious, then merely to tell everyone how wonderful the Pyramid of Power is in all its manifestations.” The big-shoe phenomenon spreads far beyond Russia, of course, and Politkovskaya is not alone when she asks what the fate of those who refuse to play in the Big Top is—“They become pariahs,” she answers, though in her case it was worse still. Much of the collection concerns Russia’s war in Chechnya, which has quieted down since, but, only a few years ago, was raging—no thanks to orchestrated atrocities on the part of the Russian Army that Politkovskaya covered and uncovered. One was the so-called Shatoy Tragedy, in which Russian soldiers under the command of the Central Intelligence Directorate killed six Chechen civilians and burned their bodies. Politkovskaya’s reportage is far from objective, in the vaunted Anglo-American sense. Her ledes build around terms such as “massive violation of human rights” and “the racketeering that pervades the Republic,” recounting the misdeeds of plutocrats and bureaucrats, and otherwise offering news and commentary from what she called “the furthest end of the Old World.” Even the less pointed touches—travel notes from Europe and Australia, a brief memoir of living with an elderly dog—are sharp in their none-too-veiled view of a society that should be better than it is.

An essential book for budding Russia hands, followers of world events and fans of good journalism.

 

Pub Date: April 5th, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-935554-40-0
Page count: 480pp
Publisher: Melville House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2011




NEW AND NOTABLE TITLES FOR APRIL:

NonfictionALL THAT IS BITTER AND SWEET by Ashley Judd
by Ashley Judd
NonfictionHERE ON EARTH by Tim Flannery
by Tim Flannery
NonfictionA COVERT AFFAIR by Jennet Conant
by Jennet Conant

MORE BY ANNA POLITKOVSKAYA

NonfictionA RUSSIAN DIARY by Anna Politkovskaya
by Anna Politkovskaya
NonfictionPUTIN’S RUSSIA by Anna Politkovskaya
by Anna Politkovskaya

MORE BY ARCH TAIT

NonfictionA RUSSIAN DIARY by Anna Politkovskaya
by Anna Politkovskaya
NonfictionPUTIN’S RUSSIA by Anna Politkovskaya
by Anna Politkovskaya
FictionSONECHKA by Ludmila Ulitskaya
by Ludmila Ulitskaya

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

NonfictionTO CATCH A TARTAR by Chris Bird
by Chris Bird
NonfictionIT'S WHAT I DO by Lynsey Addario
by Lynsey Addario
IndieTHE JOURNALIST by Jos Scharrer
by Jos Scharrer
FictionTHE HOUSE OF JOURNALISTS by Tim Finch
by Tim Finch